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active vs. passive

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Deanbassist445, May 10, 2010.

  1. i have two bass one bc rich with active and a dean with passive. there is a deffinet difference in tone my dean has more of a dull tone to it. i know the basic difference between passive and active is that active is battery powered. can anyone explain the difference more in depth for me please?
  2. Actives usually lower the output impedance. The effects of guitar cable capacitance and loading from whatever you plug the bass into are less of an issue.

    Also, some preamps are designed to color the sound, even with the EQ set flat.
  3. Active pickups can boost frequencies. Passive pickups can cut frequencies. Neither is really better then the other, it's a taste thing.
    I've had both, passive basses seem to have an aggressive growly tone, like my Jazz bass. I've gotten a deeper more Hi-Fi sound out of my bass with active EMGs. My bass with active Bartolini pickups, is really versitile. I can dial in almost anything I want.
  4. thetawaves


    Dec 29, 2006
    Actives have a preamp which allows you to noodle the tone a little more "on-board" as opposed to sticking with passive low/high-pass filters and a pickup selector. Main problem being that if your battery runs out on an active, you'll get no sound. Ideal is an active/passive switching capability. I've found actives (even with everything flat) to be a tad brighter with a tighter low-end than passives, though passives are a good deal warmer. IMHO, IME etc....
  5. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    Active basses will sound brighter, even with no EQ and a flat preamp, because the preamp offers a high impedance input, and isolates the pickups from your patch cord, which rolls off high end because of cable capacitance. Very often they will also have a deeper and tighter low end.

    Also depending on the preamp it might isolate the pickups from the resistive load of the volume and tone controls.

    So what you are hearing is usually the true sound of the pickups, though people are used to the lower resonant peak with passive basses.

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